Conjure the indie noise you thought you'd heard enough of: the degraded guitar, the steady rhythm of drums, the feeble crackle and hiss of amps turned too low on recording antiquated technology. Now picture Texas-born solo artist-turned-Broken Anchor frontman Austin Hartley-Leonard pouring his life into his songs. His jangle-pop bray (somewhere between a Swiss yodel and a Gallagher brother's drawl) gets stuck in your head like shell-trapped ocean waves. Suddenly that low-grade guitar loop deserves an audience and that crash and ride of the drum is more refined.
This is where dredging through all of that indie pop has led to a pot of euphonious gold. Broken Anchor, which also includes Mike Duffy, has taken lemons and made Fresh Lemonade, the Los Angeles-based duo's debut album, which dropped Sept. 17.
In the opening track "Always," the heavy thump of an unfiltered bass makes way for a guitar riff as fetching as the radio-friendly sound of the Lumineers--a prevailing theme throughout the album. Hartley-Leonard's haunting vocals echo off strings and get caught somewhere in the kick drum, only to be shot back in a triumphant, harmonic display.
"Canada," the album's first single, will please the catchy hook enthusiast who looks to grab any phrase that might score a few points with the local barista shying over the espresso machine. It unleashes the potential for the entire album, combining the low-fi edge of Beach Fossils with the pop influence of Rod Argent, founder of 1960s English rockers The Zombies.
Fresh Lemonade doesn't set out to reinvent a genre, rather it adds a refreshing twist on an established sound. Broken Anchor compiles a brief 10 tracks in its debut album, but 35 minutes of immersion in sound is plenty. If necessity is the mother of invention, then brevity seems to be the often-overlooked bastard son--and he is integral to this departure from the habits that often plague indie artists. There are no fillers or gimmicks to sell a full-length record for the benefit of a one-hit wonder. Every track is calculated, segueing into the next in a cohesive story that deserves to be told.